Old Mutual CEO confident of new growth in 2024

Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, African Business talks to Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson about the pan-African financial group's strategy.

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Q. What is your evaluation of Old Mutual’s performance this past year?

We can’t ignore the fact that the economy was tough in 2023, and this made business operations across all disciplines and markets hard to navigate. But we continued to push and deliver on the African agenda and address many challenges, including the current energy crisis, high inflation, low growth, geopolitical risks and socio-economic vulnerabilities. 

Q. In which areas do you observe growth and identify investment opportunities? 

While change is constant, we believe that growth can be expected in the following sectors and industries: agribusiness, automotive, and pharmaceuticals as well as transport and logistics.

Q. You have been vocal around ESG policies, particularly regarding companies you invest in. What’s your thinking there?

As a business firmly anchored in Africa, our purpose is to champion mutually positive futures for our customers and stakeholders every day. For us, this means using the breadth of the financial solutions we offer to drive access, inclusion and growth. 

We acknowledge the interconnectivity between the economic, social and environmental systems we operate in, and the urgency to transform our collective growth path to be more socially inclusive and resource efficient, and reducing less carbon. This also extends to our partners and other stakeholders.

Q. The past few years have been challenging. Why should we be optimistic about the year ahead?

Young people are leading a global revolution, which is both encouraging and inspiring. All the smartest entrepreneurs are incredible young people who have invested in start-ups, ideas and impactful development solutions. They are enthusiastic, motivated, and absolutely determined to drive change. We must and will find ways to support them and ensure they succeed. 

Q. What key message do you plan to convey at Davos?

Our key message is that collaboration is the key to fixing our fragmented world. The challenges are too big for any one player to address alone. As an organisation, we are ready to play our part in effecting the changes needed. 

This is particularly true of the climate crisis, where the effects are across borders and regions. Across Africa, we have seen this in real time with the droughts and floods experienced over the last year. These are not confined to national borders and require joint efforts to manage them. 

Collectively, decisive action is not only necessary, but critical. The global response has been slower than required and we are at a critical juncture where a faster, more determined response is needed. The need for a just transition and developing an appropriate pathway for developing economies is acknowledged. There is an urgency to find pratical solutions and work together to make it happen. 

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